Friday, August 02, 2013

How a premium brand experience anchors a business model: case study of SV Travel

When Studio Velo, a high-end bicycle shop in Mill Valley, California, wanted to give its business a competitive edge, it created SV: Travel. 

“Our new division lets us offer our customers on-the-road travel adventures that create community, strengthen customer loyalty, and drive sales,” says founder and owner Scott Penzarella. 

“And the focal point of that experience is our Studio Velo Sprinter. From the moment you depart to the moment you arrive, the Sprinter becomes your home away from home. It’s what you see from the distance, awaiting you at every turn. It’s the safety blanket for our clients and our staff on a long, challenging ride down the California coast.”

Scott Penzarella first became enamored with the idea of leveraging high-end cycling as a business model in the U.S. while studying in Spain. During his time there, he worked at Suraventura, the leading high-end cycling shop in southern Spain, and he became convinced that a European approach to the cycling business could work here. 

Launching Studio Velo in Mill Valley, California, proved him right, and he credits the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter as a central factor in helping him build the brand image he was after and driving subsequent growth.

Studio Velo has been growing at a 20 percent annual clip during the past two years, with much of that growth driven by its travel division, SV: Travel, which conducts single-day and week-long trips for cyclists. 

"SV: Travel introduces our brand to new clients whose business is acquired via impromptu in-store purchases," Penzarella says. "These same clients tend to frequent our store more often, pre- and post-trip. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is a dream vehicle for our business concept. I wouldn't consider anything else."

The SV: Travel Sprinter started out as a 2011 Model 2500 High Roof Passenger Van with 144-inch wheelbase. The vehicle is outfitted to provide "the same professional, comfortable, and premium brand experience we offer in our store," Penzarella says. "To put our highly discerning clients in anything other than a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter would rob them of the premium-brand experience Studio Velo built its reputation on."

Penzarella's most important considerations in choosing a van were reliability, driver and passenger comfort, and fuel efficiency, and the Sprinter has surpassed his expectations in all three areas, he says. The combination of Sprinter's outstanding standard features and the ability to customize it to Studio Velo's specific needs just sealed the deal. 

"Our tagline is 'passion, precision, and performance,'" he says. "The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter gives SV: Travel the exact premium-brand experience we desire and our clients expect."

Selecting a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for Studio Velo's travel business was "a no-brainer," says Scott Penzarella, the company's founder. The high-end image it projects was important, but equally critical was the scope of options it presented for customizing. 

The SV: Travel Sprinter had to be functional and fashionable at the same time. Studio Velo achieved that with a full graphics wrap; a wireless hotspot; front and rear receiver hitch mounts welded to the frame for bike racks, portable work stands, and equipment racks; a custom cabinetry system; and full mobile kitchen, which includes a commercial espresso machine, where the professional chef who accompanies every outing prepares gourmet meals for the cyclists.

From "Sprinter Chronicles" by Mercedes-Benz in INC.


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